Motherhood & Parenting

Paul’s Surgery is Done

For those of you who are following Paul’s plight, here’s an update.

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On Monday we began the long trek back to Rochester for a second surgery, which lasted about 3 hours.  His doctor reopened his incisions from 7 years ago and made a thorough examination of his old shunt system, beginning with the shunt itself, down to the valve behind his ear, and finally snaking all the way down his neck into his stomach cavity.

The doctor was hoping that he’d discover that it was malfunctioning, which would be an easy explanation for the incredibly high levels of pressure in Paul’s brain during his migraines.  But he did not.  The old shunt was functioning.  Nevertheless, he replaced it with all newer equipment, in hopes that even though the old equipment was functioning, perhaps it wasn’t functioning optimally.

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Here’s a closer shot of two of his incisions.  There’s a third on his stomach, where the tubing ends.

And how was Paul during this four day trial?  Physically he was as well as could be expected, but emotionally and psychologically, he was down.  Very down.  As a mother, this was the hardest thing to watch.  He didn’t want to be in a hospital anymore.  He didn’t want to have wires and tubes sticking out of him.  He didn’t want to wear a hospital gown.  But he didn’t cry about it; he just looked terribly sad.

So we prayed through it.  This time he chose to offer his sufferings for our family.  We prayed rosaries.  We prayed morning and night prayer.  But really, I think he was just exhausted, as we all were.

Finally the day after his surgery in the afternoon, he picked up a little, as the beautiful water fountain out of his window was turned on that day, and he could watch it from his window.

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When he could move around, he sat up in the window and watched the courtyard fill with people enjoying the fountain and warm weather.

My mom and I also walked him down the hall to a pottery class for the children on his floor.  He didn’t want to walk out there in his hospital gown, dragging an IV cart along, but he did.

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Here he is, painting a mug.  The local company that sponsored this activity will fire it and mail it to him.

We also found other things to distract him with.  We watched the Twins play baseball.  (Paul’s a big fan of Rosario, and it was neat to see him hit a few home runs.)  My mom bought a lego set, which he put together, took apart, put together…  We read a few light books, you know, like Frog and Toad.

In the end, it is our hope that this new shunt will somehow alleviate his migraines, and they will disappear.  High levels of pressure in one’s brain is a very serious thing.  Children with hydrocephalus die or go into a coma with the same levels that Paul was experiencing–levels into the 40s and 50s.  But because his levels are cyclic, however, he manages to be ok, and has not had any damage to his brain, yet.

Paul’s doctor has said that if this shunt doesn’t work, then we’ll have to think about another surgery wherein he’ll take apart his cranium and reassemble it with a plastic surgeon to allow for more space, in an attempt to alleviate those pressure levels.

Lastly, a Thank You

Truly, my husband and I are very thankful for the great help of the staff, doctors, and nurses at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester.  They’ve all been so helpful and kind.

We’re also greatly indebted to our parents who have done so many things for us over these last four weeks–watching children, cooking meals, paying for hotels and gas and food, allowing us to use their reliable car, and indeed accompanying us on these many trips.  How could we do it without you?  We couldn’t.  May God bless you for your generosity and love.  We love you all so much.

Lastly, we want to thank everyone who has prayed with us during this difficult trial.  As prayers and sacrifices are hidden things, and we may never know about them, we pray that God, who is a great Father, will reward you all abundantly.

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Here he is on the way home.  The doctors gave him some gear to show his siblings.  He’s also sporting his new Twins Rosario t-shirt.  Thank you, Mom!
Call Me Catholic, Homeschooling

Homeschooling With the Faith: An Essay by the Eldest

As many of you know, I’ve been gone for the last 7 days, attending medical appointments for our son.  We are still not done with this process, but hopefully soon we’ll have some answers.

So today, I offer a little essay written by the Eldest, our 12-year-old.  The other day she wrote an essay for a competition in our homeschool coop.  She worked very hard on it, so I thought I’d share what she wrote for fun.

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Here she is, diligently working on her dreaded math.

Without further ado…

Homeschooling With the Faith: An Essay by The Eldest

My family homeschools, so homeschooling is living the Faith every moment of everyday.  The Faith is not a subject to be pulled out and then put away. The Faith penetrates everything we do. Here are three glimpses of how my family tries to walk with Jesus throughout the day.

Our family begins each day with prayer.  At 6:40 a.m. my alarm goes off, and I tiptoe upstairs to our living room.  My parents are already up and they have been praying for a half hour in the light from our gas fireplace and votive candles.  I find a blanket and attempt to start my day with God. Pretty soon my brothers also come straggling upstairs and pack themselves like sardines on the loveseat to read saint books.  After prayer, I go to face the bane of my existence–math.

At supper, my father reads the saint of the day from Father Alban Butlers’ Lives of the Saints or in Lent he reads the Stational Church for the day.  Every night my father makes the sacrifice of watching his family eat their food while he reads and endures interruptions.  My family listens and then we talk about the lessons from the saint’s life. This is part of our instruction in the Faith.

At the end of the day our family comes together for the rosary.  Everyone drops what they are doing and comes running or walking.  All of us take a rosary from the rosary hooks and kneel or sit in front of our picture of Mary.  Well, actually the baby generally tries to eat a rosary, which despite diligent practice has never quite come off perfectly.  After praying the Rosary, my siblings and I go to bed with Dad’s blessing.  And that is the end of our homeschool day!

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She thought it was too early in the morning to smile, but I got her to!
Call Me Catholic

It’s Sexagesima Sunday

Yep, this Sunday is Sexagesima Sunday, in the Old Calendar.  Kind of a funny name, no?  It means that we’re on the threshold of Lent.  Are you ready?

Septuagesima, Sexagesima, & Quinquagesima Sundays

In the Old Calendar, the three Sundays prior to Ash Wednesday were specifically dedicated to preparing one for Lent, and they have funny, Latin names: Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima.  They mean, seventieth, sixtieth, and fiftieth, which is to say, it’s roughly 70 days until Easter, 60 days until Easter, and fifty days until Easter.  This next Sunday, we’ll be at Sexagesima.  Clear as mud?

Well, in the Old Calendar during the three weeks prior to the actual start of Lent, priests wore violet vestments and certain elements of the Mass were dropped, like the Gloria and Alleluia.  (In fact, there’s a sweet tradition of physically burying the Alleluia, only to dig it up again at Easter.)  All of these things were meant to get you thinking.  Sober up, people!  Let’s start preparing.

The 3 Pillars of Lent: Prayer, Fasting, & Almsgiving

During these fore-lenten Sundays, my husband and I like to begin preparing for Lent.  We take a look at the classic 3 pillars of lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  Below I’ll offer a few thoughts for you all to consider.

Prayer:

  1. Do you set aside a time to pray, every single day?  If not, what’s stopping you?
  2. For those of you who are married, are you praying with your spouse?  Every day?
  3. Or how about praying Compline in the evenings?  (There’s an excellent book, The Office of Compline, by Fr. Samuel Weber.)
  4. For those of you with children, are you praying with them every day?
  5. How about a family rosary?
  6. Fathers, are you blessing your children every day?
  7. And finally, go to confession!  At bare, rock-bottom minimum, go at least once this season.  If you’d like a challenge, consider going every week or so.
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Again, go to confession!  You won’t regret it.

Fasting:

Fasting is the second great pillar of Lent.  In our culture, this one gets ignored a lot.  And we need it.  I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in Mark 9:28-29, “And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast [the demon] out?”  And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.”

Do you have something in your life that needs casting out?  Try fasting.  Do you know of someone who really needs Jesus?  Try fasting.

If you’ve never done this before, start small  Give up one meal a week.

If you’re accustomed to weekly fasting, try two days a week.

Almsgiving:

This one’s a little tricky, as every family is in a different place financially.  If you’d like a little more on what the Church officially says, click HERE for Jimmy Akin’s take on tithing and giving.

The point during Lent is to work towards the virtue of generosity – the virtue of being unattached to material goods and in gift giving.  During Lent, one may look at it in two ways:

  1. How can our family work towards giving more of our total income?
  2. In what ways am I able to make a monetary sacrifice during Lent to benefit a charity?

The first one…again, as each family is different, this one cannot have some uniform answer.  Wherever you’re at on this one, take a step towards giving more of your total income.  If you’re currently giving 1%, try 2%.  For those of you who’d like a stricter guideline, I once read somewhere to shoot for 5% of your income to your local church, 4% to any charity, and 1% to the Bishop.  This would be a true 10% tithe.  (The word tithe means one tenth.)

If you really want a challenge, and are already tithing 10% of your income, then consider giving 10% of your total income before taxes.  And tithe that bonus too.

The second point…during Lent make an additional monetary sacrifice.  For example, maybe you are accustomed to dining out a few times each month.  Consider not eating out, and expressly give that budgeted money away to your favorite charity.

In the end, God cannot be outdone in generosity, and He will reward you!  Just take the first step.

And Lastly, a Lenten Challenge

Have you ever wondered what it was like for most Catholics throughout the history of our Church to pray the Mass?  I mean, what was it like for St. Catherine of Siena to receive the Eucharist?    Or which Mass inspired the great writings of St. Thomas Aquinas?  Or the great missionaries?

For nearly 2000 years Catholics have been worshipping the same way at the Latin Mass, and if you’ve got one near you, check it out.  Don’t worry about not understanding everything.  Most places have hand missals, if you’d like to follow along.  (But you don’t have to.)

If you live around here, we’ve got one this Sunday at Christ the King Church in Mandan at 11:30.  I’d love to see you there.

Christ-Like Minimalism

Christ-like Minimalism: The Living Room

A Series on Christ-like Minimalism in the Home

Today I’m going to begin a series examining each room in my home, in light of minimalism.  But not the secular minimalism void of any deeper meaning.  No, I hope to have the message of the Gospel at the heart of all of this.  Christ is the beginning and the end after all.

A Disclaimer

I am not an expert.  I don’t know what I’m doing, really.  I just know there is an overwhelming interest in this area lately and many are asking for help and guidance.  I’m only sharing what has worked for me and my family.  Of course my family will be different than yours.  You will have different needs.  I only hope to offer a few ideas that may work for you.

My main source of inspiration comes from Fr. Thomas DuBay’s book, Happy Are You Poor.  And man, let me tell you, I fall so short from where he would have me be.  But I like that because I like a challenge.  If you don’t own this book, you should.  It’s a great one to come back to.

Secondly, though, I was greatly inspirited by Darci Isabella.  She has shown me that a large family – she’s got ten children – can homeschool and live with less.  If you look around on her YouTube channel, you will find videos where she does room tours.  I found them helpful over this last year, even if I didn’t do things exactly the same way she did.  (For example, she doesn’t like owning books.  I do.)

And that’s my goal.  Just so show you an example of a large family, bumbling along, and trying to live a more Christ-like simplicity through what our cultural calls “Minimalism.”

The Living Room

So here we go.

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What is the purpose of your living room?

Certainly our living room is a place for anyone to gather at any time, but it’s real purpose is for us to have a place to pray.  We gather here as a family twice a day for that very thing.  In the early morning, at 6:15am my husband and I begin Lauds with him lighting the four votive candles that you can see on the fireplace mantle.  (We love candles.)  On Sundays, we light the two tall tapers too.

I wanted the focus of this room to be on Jesus, which is why His icon is centrally located above the fireplace.  You can also see the house phone on the mantle, but that has been bothering me lately, so I moved it to a more discreet location in the dining room.  Also on the mantle are two family photos and a vase of flowers.  (I love flowers – fake or real, but preferably real.)

The bookshelf consists of four inner shelves.  The lowest shelf is usually empty because the baby just tears stuff out of it anyway.  However, sometimes I will put a baby toy or two there, as you can see from the photo.  The next shelf up contains the children’s prayer books, since they join us at about 6:40am for prayer.  The shelf above that one holds my grandmother’s King James Version of the Bible that we frequently reference for the beauty of the language and so want it to be easily accessible.  There is also a family photo here and a bowl of rosaries.  The last inner shelf are all current books that my husband and I are reading in addition to our prayer books.

Next to that bookshelf on the floor is a basket full of children’s picture books.

To the right of the fireplace is another chair.  (See photo below.)

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Behind this chair you will see the children’s rosaries on hooks.  We need the rosaries to be in a handy spot because every night after dinner, we kneel before the Sacred Heart of Jesus as a family and pray five mysteries together.IMG_1038.jpg

Here is a shot of the opposite side of the fireplace.  The end table between the chair and loveseat usually has our periodicals on it with a book or two that someone may have been reading and did not put away.  Ideally, I’d put the periodicals in the bottom part of that stand, but I can’t with the baby always tearing things out right now.

The lamp to the right of the loveseat is the only other light we have on in the mornings.  I particularly like its location because is lights up Jesus in the Last Supper directly above it.

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Here’s another shot of the living room.  You may be able to see that to the left of the gray couch, on the floor, are two folded blankets.  They are kind of hiding, but they’re important since we live in the Arctic Circle.  (Not really.)  The children use them every morning to snuggle in.

And that’s all that’s in my living room.  I used to have all kinds of toys in my living room when my older children were younger, but I never liked it.  I hated the mess.  So a few years ago, I said enough.  No more.  And let me tell you, it’s way better.

Now that doesn’t mean that stuff doesn’t get drug in throughout the day, but it does mean that it gets put away after dinner.

Toys are a big problem for most families these days, and I hope to address that one as I go along in this series.  For now all I can say is, less is better.  I’ve never regretted giving away toys.  And strangely enough, neither have my children.

That completes my living room tour.  If you have any comments or questions, be sure to put them below in the Comments Section, as others may be interested in what you have to say.  In a week or so I hope to examine another room, but I want to leave you with a memory that popped into my head while typing this out.

The Family Whose House Burned Down

A few years ago a local family lost their entire house to a fire.  It was devastating, as they only escaped with the clothes on their backs.  Somehow I got wind of it all and heard that they were living in hotel room and were asking for household supplies to start over again.

So I thought, what can I give?  I went to the basement and grabbed our extra suitcase.  (I thought they might as well have that.)  And I began to fill it.  I had an extra quilt.  I had a whole set of unused kitchen towels.  I had a few kids’ games that were never used.  I found so many things that I filled the suitcase and had to get a garbage bag.

Then I found my beautiful set of extra silverware that I had never used.  I held the wooden box in my hands.  It was a gift that someone had given to us for our wedding.  I didn’t want to part with it, partly because I worried about what that person would think should she find out and partly because the set was complete and like I said, beautiful.

I started to put it back on the shelf, but something inside me said no.  This lovely silverware set was not meant for me.  It was meant for this poor family, and so in the end I gave it too.

The next day I drove over to the hotel and gave them my things.  The mother of the family was so thankful.  So thankful.  But you know what?  I was the one who was thankful for the opportunity to give.  I walked away with Love burning in my heart.

Of course when we simplify or declutter our homes and give things away, we don’t always get to see who might benefit from it all.  But that one time I did get to see.  And it was worth it.

But it is always worth it, no matter what.  For giving our things away teaches us detachment from them, and more importantly, it teaches us Love.

 

Motherhood & Parenting

Mom Hours: My Son Suffers Migraines

I’ve been putting in a lot of Mom Hours lately.  You know, days when one doesn’t even get a solid fifteen minute break.  (Not to say anything of the night.)

Of course it’s been busier than usual with the selling of our home and the purchasing of another, but it’s more than that.  It’s the start of a new school year with many new elements thrown in.  For example, two of our children are now attending a brick and mortar school, which requires more driving.  And I am still homeschooling three others with a Toddler and a Baby bouncing along in the background.

And somebody has to make sure there’s food on the table.

Now I like doing all these things.  But I don’t like that my 9-year-old son suffers from migraines.  This throws me for a loop every time.  I can always sense when one is coming on because I find him sitting on the couch, not moving.  Then, there’s a glassy look in his eyes.  Then, he doesn’t want to eat, which is a constant worry for me because he only weighs 60 pounds to begin with.  And finally, within an hour of that, it’s an all-out migraine.

His migraines last anywhere from 4-10 hours.  And they almost always end in vomiting.  Last week, as he was throwing up in the toilet, I was moved to tears.  He was so weak that when he finished, he simply slumped to the floor and lay there.

I felt helpless.  I finished scrubbing the toilet and turned to him and said, “I’m so sorry that you’re hurting.  I wish I could take it away.”  Then he got up and looked at me with his big, sunken-in eyes and said quietly, “Mom, you are not meant to suffer migraines.  I am.  It is God’s will.”  And he slowly walked back to the couch.

It is God’s will.

He’s right, and I have a lot to learn from him.  Even while he was clutching the toilet, he was praying for my cousin who suffers from alcoholism.  Surely God hears the prayers of the little suffering children.  It was painfully beautiful to witness.

If only I would remember to pray during my hardships – my sleepless nights of insomnia, for example.  For the Office of Compline reminds me:

In the silent hours of the night, bless the Lord.

And again in Psalm 91,

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, who abides in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.”

My God, in whom I trust.  To whom would I rather go?

It is God’s will that my son suffers migraines, and it is my lot to care for him.  It is also God’s will that I suffer from insomnia.  And yes, it means putting in long Mom Hours.  This is no 9-5 vocation after all, and it requires a lot of sacrifice and prayer.

Call Me Catholic

Your Friendly Reminder: Go To Confession!

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I had one of those terrible moments the other night.  You know, the ones where you crush the spirit of your child and know it.  It’s awful.

I had just sat down with my husband to pray Night Prayer after a long, harrowing day.  I was exhausted from the previous night’s insomnia, stressed about our house not selling, and anxious about the up-coming school year.  All I wanted to do was pray (i.e. whine about my problems to Jesus) without interruptions from my children.

Alas, this was not meant to be.  We hadn’t even made it through the opening prayer and up bounces one boy yelling, “Mom, he wrecked my lego set!”  And then 30 seconds later, the 5-year-old runs up crying, “Mom, she pushed me right here.  It really hurts.  I don’t understand why she has to do that.  I was just trying to brush her hair…”

Now, I made it through these interruptions without losing it, but barely.  Then up walks my eldest and asks with a merry twinkle in her eye, “Mom and Dad?  Will you come downstairs?  We have a surprise for you!”  I turned toward her, looked her straight in the eye, and firmly said, “No.”  She was immediately taken aback.  She slowly turned around, her shoulders slumped, and I could hear a sigh of true disappointment.  I had really hurt her.  She was so excited to show us something, and I had resolutely pushed her aside.

I had a choice in that moment.  I could persevere in my obstinate insistence on my will to avoid the children, or I could humble myself before Jesus, admit my wrong behavior, and agree to go see the “surprise.”  I could feel my husband silently pleading with me with his eyes, and so I called after her, “Wait!  We’ll come down after prayer to see your surprise.”

It was the right choice, even though I had to sacrifice my ideal of a quiet night.  The children had made up a little play for us, and it was beautiful.  They had made a special spot for us to sit and commenced singing and dancing in costume.  And I could have missed it all!  I wouldn’t trade those fifteen minutes for anything.

And now, there’s one thing left for me to do.  Go to Confession.  We all need to go regularly, and so this is my friendly reminder to all of you too:

Go to Confession!

 

Life is Worth Living

Welcome to the Family!

Dear Readers,

I can’t help but spread a little cheer.  My brother has just announced his engagement to the lovely lady in the photo below.  They both have suffered a lot through previous “marriages,” which have been annulled.  God is giving them a second chance to do things rightly.

All I can say is, congratulations!  And welcome to the family!

And then I have two bits of advice for all Engaged Couples.

Advice for Engaged Couples

  1. Start praying together now, if you aren’t already.  (This goes for you married couples too.)  This is so important.  Not only will it help you when things get tough, but just think of the example you are setting for your children.
  2. Go to confession.  We are all sinners, and we all need to frequent this sacrament.  (Married couples included.)  So, go to confession!
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Here is my brother and his new fiancé in front of the oldest cathedral in the United States.  Quiz:  Where are they?*

 

By the way, I understand that my brother’s fiancé is 100% Italian.  This is exciting for our family because we are mostly German and Norwegian, with a little Dutch sprinkled on top.

But the Dutch part is very important, as I will never forget my Grandfather explaining his heritage and last name.  “You see, Kim, our last name used to be ‘Van Dubbelden’ in the Old Country, but now it’s Dubbelde, which is a little more American.  But don’t you ever forget,” and here he stopped, looked me straight in the eye, pointed his finger at me, and said, “If ya ain’t Dutch, ya ain’t much!

Well, I’m glad I’m Dutch.  But, I look forward to having an Italian in the family.  I love their wine.  (After all who ever heard of a Dutch wine?  Or a Norwegian wine?)

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Cheers!  From my husband.

 

*Answer:  St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.  Not built by the Dutch or the Italians, but by the French of course.

Motherhood & Parenting

Insomnia Bites

I was asked the other day if I suffer from insomnia?  Uh, yes.  From time-to-time anyway, and it’s terrible.  I’d say that it sucks, but that’s not proper language for a sophisticated blog.  So I’ll just say that it’s terrible.

I never used to have a problem sleeping.  Anybody remember those college days of setting the alarm clock for 10am?  And sleeping all the way through the night, until 10am?  Yeah, that’s a little pathetic, but you get the idea.

Then I got married and started having children.  Like a lot of children.  And the older I get, the less sleep I get, and not just because the baby wants to nurse and the 5-year-old wet the bed and the 2-year-old just feels like screaming.  Nope, with this last pregnancy especially, I was just plain wide awake at all hours of the dark, dark night.

There is nothing more frustrating than getting all the children asleep and realizing that one has only a few precious hours wherein to sleep and then not being able to sleep. Oh, the agony!

If any of you find yourself in this situation, I’ll give you a few ideas that seem to work for me.  But remember, everyone is different, so these tips may or may not work for you.  (Shoot, they don’t always work for me either.)

4 Tips for Surviving Insomnia

1. Watch what you’re doing those two hours before bedtime.

If I’m stressed out, running around, or worrying about everything I didn’t get done, you bet I’m going to be wide awake at night.  This is why it’s very important for me to relax in the evening.  I need to forget about the load of laundry sitting in the dryer and the sticky mess on my kitchen floor.  Rather, it’s time for me to sit down, have a glass of wine, and play a hand of Gin Rummy with my husband.

2.  Eat well.

I always feel better when I’ve attempted to eat well during the day.  You know, like pass on the potato chips and have a bowl of plain yogurt with blueberries instead.

3.  Exercise.

Every day I try to get outside and go for a walk or a run.  It’s amazing what just 20 minutes will do for a gal.  And yes I said outside, even in the cold, cold North.  Bundle up!  The reason I prefer outside to a machine indoors is because of the quiet.  Some of my best ideas come to me when I’m walking down the road outside by myself.  And I always feel better at the end of the day knowing my body moved around a bit.

4.  Just get out of bed and go pray or read.

This one is so difficult for me, but when I do it, I almost always come back to bed and fall asleep.  Instead of lying in bed, staring at the clock, and thinking Oh, I just need to sleep!  The baby’s going to wake up in 45 minutes, and I have so much to do tomorrow.  Why, oh why can’t I just fall asleep!  I just get up and go tell Jesus about it.  I grab my robe, stumble out to the living room, and sit before our icon of the Sacred Heart and pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet.  I don’t turn any lights on either.

I also have a couple favorite Psalms that I like to pray, which come from the Office of Compline.  (Click HERE for it on Amazon.)  From Psalm 134, “In the silent hours of the night, bless the Lord!”  And from Psalm 91, “Night holds no terrors for me sleeping under God’s wings.”

In the end though, Jesus knows, and he cares.  Really.  And this too shall pass, or so I tell myself.

Call Me Catholic, Life is Worth Living

A Day in the Life of a Crazy Fool: Part 8

This is it.  The final part of this series and my day.  If you’ve missed the earlier parts, look to my sidebar under “Tags,” and click on A Day in the Life Series.

7pm Rosary

Around 7pm, my husband calls all the children to Rosary Time.  Now I would love to paint a pretty picture of this.  You know, with all the children gleefully running to pray as a peaceful, harmonious family, but that would be a Big Fat Lie.

No, I must be honest.  Generally at least one child is grumbling about it all.  “NO!  I want to play legos!”  Or, in a really whiny voice, “Aw, Daaaad, I just sat down to read this book.”  Or, even better yet, utter disregard and aloofness–the children ignore us and go on wrestling.

Sigh.  But we keep at it.  After all, it’s worth it.

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Here’s where the day began with Morning Prayer, and here’s where it ends with Rosary and Compline.

In any case, the five older children each lead a decade while I hold the baby and the toddler roams around the room, distracting everyone.  (She is really cute and hard not to look at.)  And we trust that Mary understands.

After the rosary, the children retire to the basement to pick up their toys and get ready for bed, and my husband and I pray the Office of Compline.  (Click HERE for a look at what we use.  It’s excellent.)  When we’re finished with this, it’s usually around 8pm, and my husband ventures downstairs to give the children blessings.

8pm “Bedtime”

Now I do not put the children to bed.  I’ve been around them all day, and I’m done.  When my husband gives them blessings, that’s it.  We do not make this a great production.  For we’re not about to waste our whole evening cajoling and persuading our children to be quiet and go to bed.  Nope.  No bedtime stories, no lying in bed with them, no nothing.  They’ve been read to and sang to and attended to all day long.

So, they’ve taken it upon themselves to tell nighttime stories and sing songs and all the rest.  It’s really quite sweet.  And we don’t care if they’re all snuggled up on the Eldest’s bed, listening to her tell a Tall Tale, so long as they don’t come upstairs.

This may sound harsh to some, but it’s what works for us.

My husband and I enjoy this time from about 8pm to 10pm as a time for us to be together.  Many nights we enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail and play a game of Gin Rummy or Cribbage.  Sometimes we just talk.  Sometimes we read aloud to one another.  Sometimes we watch a movie.

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Tonight it’s cocktails.  Manhattan on the left.  Cosmopolitan on the right.

Life is just too short to not enjoy your spouse.  If you’ve been in the habit of staring at your technology and ignoring your spouse, quit it!  And find time to be together.

For as the Venerable Fulton Sheen reminds us, “Life is worth living.”

 

Homeschooling, Life is Worth Living

A Day in the Life of a Crazy Fool: Part 7

For those of you who are excited about the Birth Story for Baby #7, you’ll just have to wait a bit!  It’ll come soon enough.

In the meantime, if you’ve missed any parts of this series and would like to read them, look to the sidebar under “Tags,” and click on “A Day in the Life Series.”

So today we pick up with what happens after dinner.

6pm Dinner Cleanup

When everyone is finished eating, my husband leads us in a brief After Dinner Prayer, which goes as follows:

We give thee thanks for all thy benefits, Almighty God, who lives and reigns forever.  And may the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.  Amen.
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Here we are, almost done.

Then chaos generally ensues, as everyone clears his place at the table.  Ideally, my obedient little children would immediately place their plate, cup, and silverware in the dishwasher and begin their next cleanup task:  The Eldest washes, Child #2 dries, Child #3 sweeps the dining room and kitchen, Child #4 straightens up the back entryway, Child #5 throws the dirty napkins in the hamper, and Child #6 plays quietly on the couch with a doll.   And this whole process would take ten minutes.

Ha!  This whole process takes anywhere from half an hour to an hour because the children are so busy gabbing and laughing and wrestling and giggling.  You’d think they were all under the age of 12.  (Well, I guess they are.)

And during this loud, chaotic time, I generally hide in the laundry room and fold the last load of laundry for the day.  My husband, blessed saint that he is, corrects the Eldest’s math, which she must fix after washing the dishes, if she has any mistakes.

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This does not look like fun to me.

If time allows, my husband and I will sometimes enjoy an after dinner drink.  In the warmer months we amble on outside and sit on the deck.

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This is the deck.  There is no way I’m ambling out here any time soon.  Looks like we’ll amble on over to the couch instead!

When the children are finished with their after dinner chores, they usually have time to mess around for a bit until the next part of our evening, which is the Rosary.  Next time we’ll pick up with this and hopefully finish up the series.

Stay tuned for Part 8!

Call Me Catholic

Lent: It’s Upon Us

Here we are, on the threshold of this great season of Lent.  Have you thought about it yet?

Septuagesima, Sexagesima, & Quinquagesima Sundays

In the Old Calendar, the three Sundays prior to Ash Wednesday were specifically dedicated to preparing one for Lent.  They have funny, Latin names: Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima.  They mean, seventieth, sixtieth, and fiftieth, which is to say, it’s roughly 70 days until Easter, 60 days until Easter, and fifty days until Easter.  Today, we’re at Quinquagesima Sunday.  Clear as mud?

Well, in the Old Calendar during the three weeks prior to the actual start of Lent, priests wore violet vestments and certain elements of the Mass were dropped, like the Gloria and Alleluia.  (In fact, there’s a sweet tradition of physically burying the Alleluia, only to dig it up again at Easter.)  All of these things were meant to get you thinking.  Sober up, people!  How are you going to prepare for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

(Want more on information on these pre-Lenten Sundays?  Click HERE for a New Liturgical Movement article.)

The 3 Pillars of Lent: Prayer, Fasting, & Almsgiving

Prayer

If you’re not already setting aside a specific time every day to pray, you need to.  I am the mother of six little children.  If I can do it, you can.  And if it’s at all possible, make that prayer time the first thing you do every day.  Get up before everyone else.  If you’re new to this, start small.  Start now.

For those of you who are married, are you praying with your spouse?  Every day?  If not, start small.  Start now.

Fathers, are you blessing your children every day?  If not, do it.  You represent Christ in your household, and your family needs you to set the example.  (Bless your wife too; she needs it.)

Are you accustomed to daily prayer already?  Consider adding Night Prayer.  There’s an excellent book, The Office of Compline, by Fr. Samuel Weber.  It’s in both Latin and English.  And it’s beautiful.  (Click HERE for it on Amazon.)

For those of you with children, are you praying with them every day?  If not, do it.  Consider a family rosary.

And finally, go to confession.  At bare, rock-bottom minimum, go at least once this season.  If you’d like a challenge, consider going every week or so.

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Again, go to confession!  You won’t regret it.

Fasting

Fasting is the second great pillar of Lent.  In our culture, this one gets ignored a lot.  And we need it.  I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in Mark 9:28-29, “And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast [the demon] out?”  And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.””

Do you have something in your life that needs casting out?  Try fasting.  Do you know of someone who really needs Jesus?  Try fasting.

If you’ve never done this before, start small.  Start now.  Give up one meal a week.

There are many ways to be creative with this one, by the way.  If you’re pregnant and cannot fast, consider eating one meal in a way that you wouldn’t like.  For example, you’re having an egg sandwich for breakfast, eat all three pieces separately – toast by itself, egg by itself, and cheese by itself.  It’s not as fun.  You get the idea.

Almsgiving

This one’s a little tricky, as every family is in a different place financially.  If you’d like a little more on what the Church officially says, click HERE for Jimmy Akin’s take on tithing and giving.

The point during Lent is to work towards the virtue of generosity – the virtue of being unattached to material goods and in gift giving.  During Lent, one may look at it in two ways:

  1. How can our family work towards giving more of our total income?
  2. In what ways am I able to make a monetary sacrifice during Lent to benefit a charity?

The first one…again, as each family is different, this one cannot have some uniform answer.  Wherever you’re at on this one, take a step towards giving more of your total income.  If you’re currently giving 1%, try 2%.  For those of you who’d like a stricter guideline, I once read somewhere to shoot for 5% of your income to your local church, 4% to any charity, and 1% to the Bishop.  This would be a true 10% tithe.  (The word tithe means one tenth.)

If you really want a challenge, and are already tithing 10% of your income, then consider giving 10% of your total income before taxes.

The second point…during Lent make an additional monetary sacrifice.  For example, maybe you are accustomed to dining out a few times each month.  Consider not eating out, and expressly give that budgeted money away to your favorite charity.

In the end, God cannot be outdone in generosity, and He will reward you!  Just take the first step.

May God bless you abundantly this Lent!

 

Homeschooling

A Day in the Life of a Crazy Fool: Part 4

Let me remind you once again, that this is just what works for our family.  Your routine will of course be different, as your family needs are different!  And so, here is Part 4.

11:15am Lunch

While I’m reheating yesterday’s beef enchiladas or some other such appetizing dish, the children are setting the table.  Then it’s time for lunch, which begins with the Angelus and Meal Prayer.

While we eat, we listen to audio books from Audible, because on most days I just want to zone out.  (The children are forever asking me questions all. day. long. and my brain needs a rest.)  Recently, we finished Ralph Moody’s 3rd book, The Home Ranch, in his Little Britches series.  Now we’re listening to The Return of the King.  (Both of these are excellent books, by the way, if you’re looking for a good read aloud.)

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This picture has nothing to do with this post.  Who teaches this kid how to spell anyway?

11:45am Cleanup and Read Aloud

When we’ve finished lunch, each child clears away his or her dishes and has another chore to do.  For example, the Eldest wipes the table, Child #2 sweeps the floor, Child #3 hand washes any dishes that cannot go in the dishwasher, and Child #4 dries.

At this point, I read aloud.  Generally I chose something we’re reading for history, as I prefer to do history as a group.  We just finished reading Knights of Art, which detailed the lives of the Italian Renaissance painters, and today we began Saint Francis of the Seven Seas by Albert Nevins.

12:15pm Blessed Quiet Time

I usually read to the children until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer.  You know, for like 15 minutes.  Then it’s that blessed time called Quiet Time, wherein all children are herded to the basement for about an hour.  They are forbidden to come upstairs during this time, unless of course something serious happens, in which case there had better be blood to prove its gravity.

In any case, almost every day I lie down for about twenty minutes.  Then, I make myself a cup of steaming, hot tea.  I usually have Lord Bergamot Blend No. 55, from Steven Smith Teamaker, which my husband orders online.

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We prefer looseleaf.  But really, I’m just thankful for the caffeine, which is why I must have black tea.

Then, I head over to the computer to do a little work in peace, and if time allows, I read a book too.

Stay tuned for “A Day in the Life of Crazy Fool: Part 5.”